WARWICK, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — A Rhode Island police officer is receiving criticism from people who say he showed preferential treatment to the sister of a U.S. congressman.
Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney says one of his officers pulled over a woman spotted driving erratically Friday night on Route 4.
The encounter was broadcast live on an episode of A&E’s “Live PD.” While the woman wasn’t named, many viewers recognized her as Susan Cicilline-Buonanno, the sister of Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline and the president of the Narragansett Town Council. She is also the principal at Gladstone Elementary School in Cranston.
In the video, Cicilline-Buonanno initially told Officer Matt Moretti she wasn’t going to partake in a field sobriety test. After Moretti said he would arrest her, she finally agreed. During the test, she had trouble following the officer’s finger. He had to repeat the directions to her several times.
The video also showed Cicilline-Buonanno had trouble walking a straight line going heel-toe.
Following the field sobriety tests, Moretti said he didn’t think she wasn’t impaired, but also said he didn’t feel comfortable letting her drive and let Cicilline-Buonanno get a ride home.
Critics say the officer let her go due to her political connections.
McCartney told Eyewitness News Cicilline-Buonanno passed the field sobriety tests and said nerves could have been the reason why she had trouble following the officer’s finger.
The chief said Moretti didn’t know about Cicilline-Buonanno’s political connections at the time of the stop.
In a statement to The Providence Journal, Cicilline-Buonanno said police allowed her to leave because she was “not impaired in any way.”
“Friday evening, while driving home, I was asked to pull over on Route 4 by a Warwick police officer and subjected to a field sobriety test. I was very surprised and very nervous. Something like this has never happened to me before. The police officers determined that I was not impaired, which of course I knew. Still, I found the whole experience really upsetting.
“I realize that people understandably hold elected officials and educators to higher standards, so I just want to emphasize that the Warwick Police allowed me to leave that evening because I was not impaired in any way. People who really know me know that I am a conscientious and responsible person. I would never operate a motor vehicle without full control of my faculties, ever.”